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Fortune Street Review


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On 12/24/2011 at 12:00 PM by Nick DiMola

This Japanese classic finally comes to America and just in time for holiday get-togethers!
RECOMMENDATION:

A great game to pick up in anticipation of family get-togethers or as a present for a Wii owner starving for a new game, especially those who bought the system for Wii Sports all those years ago. Those who like board games cannot go wrong with Fortune Street.

Marooned in Japan for two decades, Nintendo and Square Enix finally have seen it fit to bring the Itadaki Street series to North America in the form of Fortune Street for the Wii. Despite the series piquing my interest after the strong reception of the DS version in Japan, it's largely been a mystery to me. Now that I've had a formal introduction to the series, I can say that it's been well worth the wait. Cozying up more closely to Monopoly than Mario Party, Fortune Street is the perfect game to play with a group of friends and/or family members, even if they're not fans of video games.

The game comes in two flavors: one is a simplified version that excises all stock trading to allow players to focus on the core components of the game's design, which plays out very similarly to Monopoly. The more advanced adds an entirely new layer, forcing players to consider stock investment in given regions of the board to increase net worth. Unlike the seemingly unending games of Monopoly, Fortune Street has a very clear end point: once a player gains a certain net worth and passes the starting line, the game will end.

Gaining net worth is what Fortune Street is all about. There are a number of different approaches to success, but they will always be a balancing act of a few core actions. At each turn, players will roll a single die and make their way around the board. Each space holds something different, but spaces usually hold shops. Land on one, buy the title deed (if you want). You know the drill.

For at least the first few rounds, it's a nonstop land grab while players make their way around the board. Like Monopoly, after these spaces are purchased, other players will pay a penalty to the owner when landing on them. Also like Monopoly, players can invest money into their owned spaces; however, they won't need to complete any sort of series to do so, nor do they have to invest in fixed amounts. Fortune Street lets players dump as much as they want into their properties until they max out their investment. Because shops are organized into districts, players will want to purchase as many shops in the same district as possible as doing so will raise the value of their property and allow them to earn a much higher penalty rate when other players land on it.

As such, purchasing and investing is a major component to gaining net worth. When you introduce stocks, things get even more intense. As players make their way around the board, they can purchase stocks in districts at a certain rate. As the district grows, these stocks will increase in value. Players will want to balance buying lots of stock early with saving money to purchase new shops and upgrade existing properties. Owning the stocks pays dividends often, though. Each time a player lands on a shop and has to pay a fee, stock owners get a kickback. Furthermore, if players invest in the right district, they can win big with stocks. One player can inadvertently drive another one to victory, simply by investing in their own property.

If all that wasn't enough, players must also manage trips around the board as each one is in a custom shape with many branching paths. In order to force players to traverse enough spaces to "Pass Go," they must collect all 4 suits (like in cards) each of which occupy a different spot on the map. Once players collect them and pass by the bank, which acts as the starting point, they'll net a promotion. This will result in a cash payout that's even greater if you own a bunch of property. This puts a ton of ready cash in players hands which will allow them to invest in the ways described above.

With an abundance of cash, a new option will open up. If a player lands on a shop owned by another player, after paying the fee for landing there, they will be given the option to purchase the store out from under their opponent for a total of five times the amount of the property. Their opponent will only receive a 3x payout from the transaction (with the other 2x being lost to administration fees), so players are encouraged to use this technique to aggressively take ownership of district properties that will greatly increase the value of their own. It can also be used to break up a heavily owned district to reduce fees. For those desiring a lighter touch, with a bit of diplomacy, deals for property can be brokered or auctioned as well.

Intertwined into all of this strategy, there is a definite degree of luck. Die rolls will result in variable movements and will force changed strategy due to branching paths. Venture cards, which are acquired when landing on suit or question mark spaces, will result in all sorts of different situations depending on what card you draw. Some will force payout to other players, some will expand the value of all your shops, some will net you a bit of cash, and it's all the luck of the draw. This randomness keeps things interesting as players will have to formulate their strategy on the fly. 

Single player is included, but it can be quite plodding to watch all the minutiae of the computer's movements, especially when the most important parts, their menu choices, happen so quickly that you can rarely see exactly what they just did. There's also the option to challenge real life opponents online, but the experience is sterile.

Those who are serious about playing the game absolutely need to gather a group of friends or family and make their way around the boards. While the Nintendo and Dragon Quest inspired theme will excite gamers, the bright visuals provide a soft backdrop that anyone can appreciate while they're busy making cutthroat business deals and running their neighbors out of town. 

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Jason Ross Senior Staff

12/24/2011 at 06:24 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I would definitely own this if I knew more people interested in playing board games. As it stands, I don't. Seems like a quality game, just one that doesn't fit my situation right now.

Nick DiMola Director

12/24/2011 at 08:06 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Yeah, it really is a quality game. I definitely would wait until you have the right situation to play it though. I plan on playing some with my inlaws while they're in town.

Kathrine Theidy Feature Writer

12/26/2011 at 12:55 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Did you play much of the single player? That's the only place to unlock stuff, so it's kind of something people will have to do to get the most out of the game. And that's one of the things that's been keeping me from buying the game: in single player, you have to use a Mii! I don't like Miis, so I don't know if I could stand it. You can unlock costumes for the Mii, but that doesn't make up for much. The same goes for online too, you have to use a Mii there as well. That and the lack of mid-board saving in multiplayer are my two biggest complaints about this game.

Since this game is a pretty complicated board game, I'm not sure I know anyone who would be interested in playing it, so I might end up spending more time in single player or online. I'm hoping that some homebrewers will come up with a code to use characters in the other modes, and by that time it will likely have gone down in price too.

I also think that the troll phrase “starving for Wii games” or equivalent should have died four years ago, but that's something for another day.

Nick DiMola Director

12/26/2011 at 01:37 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

The single player experience is pretty dull. I did play through a few maps and it wasn't something that I'd really want to go back to. The multiplayer on the other hand was a good bit of fun, even with only 1 other person. Of course, the computer fills out the other spots, so you'll still have to contend with that, but it's not the end of the world.

Also, as I've mentioned in the past, I'm a Wii owner starving for a game and I'd think that's accentuated by the fact that I do have a ton of games at my disposal. They've all been played and beaten at this point and since then, next to nothing has come out, save for Zelda. The statement was more for those who bought the system for Wii Sports (like my mother and father in law) and are looking for something that would fit their tastes. They've had little reason to trot out the Wii for a good long while, but this is something that would encourage them to play for at least a little while again.

Kathrine Theidy Feature Writer

12/26/2011 at 02:13 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Can you say anything more about the online experience? Does it still work like it does offline or are their restrictions or any downfalls? I do have one friend who was thinking of getting the game, but she lives a good bit away from me and it would be a lot easier to play online than meet in person.

As for the games thing, I still maintain that it's a generalization based on personal preference, making it untrue. I understand that the recommendation part is a little different than what goes into review text, but I still feel that simply saying it would appeal to the Wii Sports crowd would be fine by itself. After all, a good game should be a good game no matter how many other games are on the system.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

12/26/2011 at 02:27 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

katherine, any console is an investment that you want to get some good use out of it. Just think, you buy a car and only use it once every 3 to 4 months. What was the point in buying the car to begin with. The games are the fuel for the consoles just as gasoline is the fuel for the engines that make the car run. One is not without the other, and to use one you need the other.

Kathrine Theidy Feature Writer

12/26/2011 at 02:46 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I'm not sure what your point is, Joaquim. I think the Wii has plenty of games, but that's because most of them appeal to my tastes. But this isn't a review of the Wii, so... yeah. I don't know what you're trying to say.

Also, there's no middle e in my name.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

12/26/2011 at 03:03 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

It's all gibberish... and I'm sorry for mistyping your name, didn't mean to.

Nick DiMola Director

12/26/2011 at 03:42 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

As far as I could tell, the online and local multiplayer were identical. So, I wouldn't be too concerned with that.

In reference to your past point, a good game is a good game, but the recommendation is meant to steer readers towards the right purchase. If you're a Wii owner looking for a good game on the system, this is a choice for you. If I would've limited my statement to just the Wii Sports crowd, it would've been too restrictive. I enjoyed the game and I plan on playing it with Chessa and eventually my son when he's old enough.

End of the story is, I have no reason to troll the Wii, especially on my own website. I've said before on many occasions that the Wii has had more games this generation that I've loved than on any other system. However, I simply can't ignore the fact that I've barely played the system this year and that's specifically due to the fact that next to nothing has come out.

Kathrine Theidy Feature Writer

12/26/2011 at 04:02 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I wouldn't disagree that Nintendo should have released more games this year (and definitely could have easily had one more with XenoBlade), but "next to nothing has come out" is not a true statement when talking about general releases. "Next to nothing has come out that interests me" is a fair statement. It's possible I'm just arguing semantics ("write your opinion as if it were fact"), but that's the point I'm trying to get across: generalizations are never fair.

We can disagree on that point, though. Even if I don't always agree with you, I respect that you express yourself with civility, which can sometimes be a rarity on the Internet. And you run a fine website, so really, I'm just nitpicking things unimportant to the whole. :)

Julian Titus Reviews Editor

12/26/2011 at 05:18 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I keep reading this title as "Fighting Street" on my iPhone, and I'm always disappointed when I realize my error.

Jesse Miller Features Editor

12/27/2011 at 08:52 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

Okay - I want to check this out. Video board game night at Nick and Chessa's!

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